Qwest Seen Offering More Cash in New MCI Bid

Qwest Communications International Inc. (Q) will submit a revised takeover offer for MCI Inc. (MCIP) that will include a greater portion of cash than in its original $8 billion cash and stock bid, sources familiar with the situation said Thursday.

Qwest, the smallest of the Baby Bell local telephone companies, is expected to submit its new offer Thursday or early Friday, hoping to scuttle the existing $6.6 billion takeover bid for MCI by Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), the sources said.

MCI accepted the lower bid by Verizon, the largest U.S. telecommer have said.

Denver-based Qwest could not be immediately reached for comment. Ashburn, Virginia-based MCI declined to comment.

Shares of Qwest gained 15 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $4.20 on the New York Stock Exchange (search). Shares of MCI shed 6 cents to $22.89 on Nasdaq.

By proposing more cash, and reducing the stock portion of deal, Qwest would be offering MCI shareholders a guaranteed payout rather than asking them to bet on the future growth potential of Qwest's stock price, the sources said.

Qwest also plans to offer a guarantee against a drop in its stock price to further ease concerns of MCI shareholders, sources said. It is expected to outline the ways the companies can save money by cutting administrative costs, and meshing their high-speed networks, sources said.

Last week, Qwest said it would submit a new bid for MCI after it reviewed the Verizon-MCI merger pact. The sources did not provide specific terms of Qwest's new bid.

In its previous bid, Qwest offered to exchange 3.735 of its shares, plus $7.50 a share in cash, for each MCI share.

Qwest Chief Executive Officer Richard Notebaert asserted last week that its combination with MCI would receive approval by regulators more quickly than the rival deal with Verizon. Analysts, however, said both deals would likely face reviews of about a year.

Qwest has been viewed by some analysts as the weaker suitor due to its $17 billion debt load, lower cash flow, and smaller marketshare for providing communications services to corporations.

The bids for MCI came in the wake of SBC Communications Inc.'s (SBC) deal to acquire AT&T Corp. (T) for $16 billion and a wave of mergers among wireless telephone companies.